Pacing and Leading - a Technique to Lead Subjects Out of a Rut

Whether in hypnosis or NLP, the principle of pacing and leading is very straightforward and the only thing we need to remember is that in order to be able to use this technique, there should be a certain element of rapport or empathy with the subject.

What is pacing and what is leading?

Pacing in this context refers to you establishing or allowing the subject to show you or let you know what they’re currently feeling or where they are at present. In other words establish the spaces they currently inhabit.

Leading is no more than guiding them to a place of your choosing – away from where they currently are.

An exmaple of pacing and leading.

For instance, if your subject says to you “I will be absolutely dreadful today and really have no idea what is the matter with me.” - then that is the mental and physical space they currently inhabit.

Assuming that you have already established rapport with the subject and there is therefore a certain level of acceptance, you can reflect their own feelings back at them which is the ‘pacing’.

For instance, you accept their initial statement but then ‘lead’ them to another place with which in this case might be the past. They have just told you that they will be absolutely dreadful.

The hypnotist says ‘You woke up feeling absolutely dreadful?

Notice that the hypnotist has changed the tense by putting the problem in the past and subtly changed the subject’s statement of “I will be” from a statement of fact to a feeling

This gives them both something to work with in order to establish a root cause, through further questioning by the subject being led by the hypnotherapist.

History of the term 'pacing and leading'.

I should explain at this stage that the term pacing was originally coined by Milton Erickson when he was presented with a subject who literally paced up and down as he talked.

In fact he could not stop pacing. Erickson paced with him, creating empathy and understanding, but with a particular objective which was to cure the subject of his incessant pacing.

Erickson paced up and down with the subject and gradually slowed the pacing and the subject also slowed down until they were both standing absolutely still having a normal conversation.

Although we still call it pacing, there is no pacing involved but it is the term applied to understanding and accepting your subject’s predicament and then leading him or her elsewhere.

Leading your subject to change.

Leading is all about inviting your subject to change. I use the word ‘inviting’ advisedly.

Figuratively, you are taking your subject by the hand and leading them down your path. Remember that you are not forcing them down your path and the technique will only be effective if the client accepts and follows your invitation.

Leading is expressing the message that you are receiving from your subject and reinterpreting it in such a way that the subject goes along with it of his or her own free will.

What you are doing is providing choices.

There is a vast difference between being judgemental and leading the subject to a solution that you know is right and showing the subject an array of paths which might provide an answer.

Allow yourself to let our hypnosis mp3 help you open up and see all the possibilities found all around you.

You are leading the subject towards general rather than specific truths and paths. You should be:

  • Showing them multiple choices.
  • Increasing their awareness.
  • Identifying what can be termed as a general problem or issue.
  • Allowing them to fill in the blanks which are specific to them.

Pacing and Leading are all about asking the right questions until you have actually ‘paced’ your subject’s current situation and then gently and gradually leading him or her to a better place.

To put it in simple managerial terms, pacing establishes WWAN (When we are now), followed by a journey to WWWLTB (Where we would like to be).